Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014. 6:09 pm CST.
AARON HUMES Reporting: Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl-Lynn Vidal this evening issued a public statement on the recent cases of Gino Peck and Reynaldo Verde.
With regard to the Peck case, the Director maintained that Peck committed a criminal act by “stockpiling ammunition” and storing and stashing ammunition that was resources of the State regardless of whether used in the performance of his duties or following procedure by turning in prohibited ammunition found while on the job. She maintained that Section 33 of the Firearms Act did not apply to Peck and that “several senior officers have come out to say that they are also guilty of that criminal act, makes it no less offensive.”
Peck was tried under the Constitutional mandate of the office to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law, in respect of any offence alleged to have been committed by that person. On the sentence, the DPP said that this was within the purview of the Magistrate on the case, in this case, Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith and it is her lot to determine what sentence is appropriate given the facts of the case and circumstances of the convict. The Crown’s duty, she said, is to assist the court as an officer of the court which is what was done this morning.
The Director goes on to say that she was greatly dismayed to read this week’s release by the Police Department charging that her office improperly pursued criminal charges. Needless to say, she disagrees, but she reports that she has spoken with Police Commissioner Allen Whylie. But she points out that there was no communication between his office and hers on the matter since he took office and furthermore, as he admitted in court this morning, Peck was never placed on any disciplinary charge. In a bombshell, she concludes this portion of the statement by saying, “It appears to us that as far as the High Command of the Police Department is concerned, criminal acts, if committed by police officers, are deserving of less condemnation. This is not the view of the persons charged with the prosecution of crime and we would invite the Commissioner and his officers to rethink that position.”
Finally, with relation to Reynaldo Verde, which we emailed her office on January 9 to discuss, she reports that it is a cause of “great surprise” that three senior officers of the Department immediately sprung into action on Verde’s behalf while from “time immemorial”, efforts to spur investigation before laying charges in major cases have not succeeded because they have been “reluctant” to do so. She states that this is not to be interpreted as suggesting that they were wrong to investigate, but “we would just like the same enthusiasm and quest for “fairness” to attend ALL of the matters which pass through the hands of the Police.”
In relation to the case, the statements forwarded have been perused and Mr. Verde’s version of events as accepted by Police is being verified. With one matter outstanding, a final decision is soon to be made when that matter is addressed.
Speaking generally on the Firearms Act, the DPP says she believes there is some “misunderstanding” of the rationale behind certain provisions of the Act and its operation, even among certain police officers which sometimes causes improper application. There are, she stated, certain provisions in the Act which are a cause of concern for her office, and she closes by saying that “we embrace the opportunity to meet with interested parties to discuss the issues that are being raised and the way forward.”
We had queried what happened to Verde’s attempted murder charge from April of 2013 where it is alleged that the complainant dropped the charges despite sufficient evidence, whether her office could overrule that decision, and whether there is concern about special treatment being afforded to the tax supervisor following the search of his premises. The DPP did not answer these specific questions and we will renew our queries in hope of a satisfactory response.
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